Friday, October 24, 2014

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Florida Catholic School Granted Exemption from HHS Mandate

A federal district judge in Michigan earlier this week granted injunctive relief from the HHS mandate to a Catholic school in Florida and four other nonprofit organizations founded by Catholic philanthropist Tom Monaghan, the founder of Ave Maria University, according to Religion Clause, a blog dedicated to the intersection of religion and legal issues.

Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III, a George W. Bush appointee, granted relief to the Rhodora J. Donahue Academy, a K-12 Catholic school in Ave Maria, Fla., which provides a classical education based on the Trivium and the liberal arts.

The other four organization include the Ave Maria Foundation, Ave Maria Communications (which produces Ave Maria Radio), Domino's Farms Petting Farm and the Thomas More Law Center, which filed the lawsuit.

In granting the injunction, Judge Murphy wrote that the lawsuit had "a strong likelihood of succeeding.”

The Court rejected the Obama administration’s argument that the mandate does not violate the organizations’ religious beliefs, writing, "It is not the government's business to decide what behavior has religious significance."

The court also stated that “the sheer number of exceptions” undercut the government's argument that compliance was vital.

The injunction protects the five organizations from being forced to comply with the HHS mandate.  Previously, the court had issued a temporary restraining order that protected them from the mandate for 14 days, while the Court considered the plea for an injunction.  This latest ruling protects the five nonprofits from the mandate until the case is ultimately decided.  Observers expect the U.S. Supreme Court to eventually decide the constitutionality of the HHS mandate.

"Christians in America are under increasing attack by the Federal Government.  And it's important we realize that we must look to the Federal Courts to protect our religious freedom guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.  “In this particular case, we are grateful for Judge Murphy's decision and the expeditious manner in which he rendered it.”

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